We are about to enter the busy season for book and paper auctions. From now through the winter holidays you can expect to see the most, and much of the best material come up for sale. With so many auction houses holding so many sales, it can be almost impossible to find what you want. Don't worry. We've got you covered. The Rare Book Hub has all sorts of tools to help you find what you want.
If you are concerned about the cost of all this, no need to worry about that either. It's free. Some things can be accessed by just visiting the site. Others, such as those providing personal notification of desired listings, naturally need you to be a signed in member of the site so we can find you. However, these are available at any membership level, including free. There are lots of great services also available to paid members, such as access to the database of 9+ million records of past sales, but we will save the sales pitch for another day. This is the free stuff.
Here are some ways to search for auction lots of interest.
1. The easiest way to search for something is in the search bar at the top of this and most pages on the site. Chances are, it is already set for searching "Upcoming Auctions," but if not, click the little arrow next to the box and choose "Upcoming Auctions." Then, just enter your keyword(s) and click "Search." It doesn't get any simpler than that. If your keywords are found in any lots coming up for auction soon, you will see the matches in a split second.
Now for some quick advice. Keep your keywords as short as possible. One word is better than two. "Twain" is better than "Mark Twain." "Huckleberry" is better than "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Tom Sawyer's Comrade." The reason is that it must match every word you enter. "Mark Twain" will not match "M. Twain," but "Twain" will. If you are searching the 9+ million database of past records, you may need to find ways to limit the number of matches so as not to be overwhelmed. Last I looked, there were 1,923 "Twain" matches. Searching AbeBooks, which probably has over 100 million listings, will be even worse (161,749 for Twain last I checked). With the upcoming auctions, the database at any one time may have 30,000 or 50,000 or 80,000 lots. You will not be overwhelmed (like 12). If you get an occasional Shania Twain item you can deal with it. Don't miss out on something you want by being too cute.
2. Part of the reason there are fewer auction lots than book listings on AbeBooks or Amazon is that those listings may stay posted for years. Auction lots are constantly turning over, many only posted a few days before they are gone. The result is you need to come back frequently, no more than a few days apart, maybe less. If you have just one keyword, that isn't a big deal. If you have a bunch of them to search each time, that is a nuisance. You won't do it. That is why there is Matchmaker.
If you look at the top of the page, you will see a tab for Matchmaker. Here is how it works. First, you need to be signed in. If you are not yet a member, go to the Become a Member page (upper right corner of this page or rarebookhub.com/pages/become_member), sign up at any level, including free, and when you receive your password, log in (you can change your password to something more convenient on the "My Account" page). Then click the Matchmaker tab on the top toolbar. There you will see an "Add Keywords" tab to enter your search terms. That's it. Tomorrow, you will have your first set of matches. It will match every upcoming lot in the auction database. From then on, everyday you will receive new matches only for lots entered the preceding day. You will also see a tab for Matchmaker Preferences. That will allow you to receive an email every day you have matches. That way, you won't have to check to see if there is something new. If you prefer not to receive emails, you can turn them off.
3. Then there is always the old fashioned way. If you click on the date (September 2019) on the small calendar on the home page (or click here), you will go to a large calendar which displays every upcoming auction (and recent past ones). If the auction is in green, it means the lots are listed. If it is green and checked, results are in. You can go through the listings of any auction that interests you. That is not as fast as a keyword search for locating a particular item, but for browsing lots, this is the way. All of the auctions are here together for you, rather than having to track down many sites.
The first page you will see when clicking on an auction presents the lots in list form. Click on the title for a detailed lot description. You will need to be logged in to see the detailed description, but that is available with memberships at any level, including free. Also, many houses place box ads for their sales on the site when they feel they have particularly interesting material. Just click one of those boxes to see what they have.